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Female politicians come to Binghamton University to encourage representation in government

Various government officials speak to students and organizations regarding the various difficulties of getting into politics

Democrats and republicans found a common cause to rally around on Wednesday: women in politics.

Franz Lino/Photo Editor Catherine Borgia speaks as one of the five invited panelists during the “Women in Politics” forum. Student government groups collaborated to put together the lecture series in Lecture Hall 10 on Thursday evening.

College Democrats, College Republicans, Women Student Union, and League of Women Voters brought local women in politics including Town Supervisor Carolyn Price, Chair of Vestal Republican Committee Julie Lewis, and Councilwoman Suzanne Messina to discuss the topic.Their talk touched on the image of women in politics, as well as their drive to get involved in politics.

“Everyone thought since I’m a woman, I would be a pushover. ‘Let’s bully her, let’s threaten her, she’ll back out,’ they would all think. I learned that I was a lot tougher than I ever thought I was being in politics,” said Monica Silas, the Vice President of the Democratic Women of Broome County.

Silas also commented on the double standards that came along with her job.

“People would assume because I was a woman, if I was acting tough, principled, and engaged I was just a nasty bitch,” she said. “But when a man acts that way, he’s getting the job done.”

Statistics from the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics presented to the crowd included that in the 113th congress, only 20% of the senate and 18% of the house positions are served by women.

Jessica Dunn, a member of the College Democrats and a freshman majoring in sociology and political science, said the event looked to spark political interest in students.

“Early in the semester, we knew we wanted to put on this kind of event,” Dunn said. “It’s indicative from the lack of females in our club that a forum like this is important to have.”

County Legislator Catherine Borgia said there were many impacts of being in politics, like constantly living in the public eye, that could dissuade women from running.

“It seems like there are a few things that hold a woman back from politics, in my opinion,” Borgia said. “But the biggest one is that a woman not only has to give up her own privacy, but she also has to give up a part of her family’s privacy as well.”

But although the politicians said they all faced struggles, they all agreed that students are the future, and it is vital to have them in politics.

“It’s so important to have youth in politics,” Silas said. “We need you to help mold the future, it’s truly in your hands.”

Ben Fuller, a member of the College Republicans, got involved with the event due to interest in the topic.

“I think this is such an important and interesting topic to cover,” said Fuller, a freshman majoring in mathematics. “A lot of people voice their opinion on this matter which needs to be addressed.”

Emma Klainberg, an undeclared freshman, said she gained a new perspective from the event.

“I never realized how few female representation there was in the government,” she said. “It was so great to hear from women who truly break boundaries.”

Another student, Rachel Nathan, a sophomore majoring in creative writing said she appreciated hearing personal accounts from these women.

“Most of the time when you hear about the misrepresentation of women in government, it’s from a random person,” said Nathan. “But getting to hear about how each of these women struggled at some point made it clear that this is something that should be changed.”